Film Incentive Bill Killed in Washington

In early March, Washington Filmworks announced that House Bill 2542, which would have increased and extended Washington’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, did not move forward for a vote in this year’s legislative session, effectively killing the bill.

As written, the bill would have doubled the size of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program fund to $7 million over two years and increased the fund incrementally until it reached $10 million by the year 2020. The bill would have also extended the sunset date of the program to December 31, 2023.

According to Filmworks, the bill could not overcome political hurdles in Olympia, nor could it overcome the revenue forecast, which indicated another $68 million budget shortfall this year and an even more significant budget shortfall for the next biennium.

Although the outcome for HB 2542 was disheartening for Washington’s production industry, it comes on the heels of a tremendous effort from the community, which organized a Keep Film in WA campaign to inform legislators of the incentive program’s benefits and raise the profile of the industry. In January, the campaign also organized Film Day in Olympia, where over 200 film professionals and supporters from around the state showed up to lobby their legislators in support of the bill.

“The fact of the matter is that everyone that took part in any aspect of the Keep Film in WA campaign did a tremendous job at raising the profile and visibility of the state-wide film industry,” said Filmworks in a statement. “It was a banner year in terms of the amount of support we received from legislators—with 33 sponsors of our bill from both political parties and representing every corner of the state. These figures, along with the feedback we received from legislators and lobbyists alike, demonstrates that we actually were wildly successful, despite not achieving our final goals.”

Washington Filmworks held debriefing sessions in Seattle on March 29 and Spokane on March 31 to discuss the campaign and its many accomplishments. As for the future of the state’s production industry, Filmworks is currently strategizing to determine their next steps in order to ensure that film stays in Washington.

Meanwhile, the film incentive program is not scheduled to sunset until June 30, 2017, so projects will still be able to take advantage of the incentive, and business is continuing as usual for Washington Filmworks. Visit www.washingtonfilmworks.org for more.

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